GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

Going Vegan: Garden & Pantry Challenges

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A Re-blog from January 1, 2012, because it’s still so relevant! I’ve learned so much since this time though- as a gardener, a cook and a mom. While we still depend on store-bought things for foods that don’t grow well here (apples, peaches) we have moved to making up meals based on what’s in the garden and ready to eat. I still gain inspiration and ideas from Happy Herbivore and other plant-based bloggers like Post Punk Kitchen and our whole family’s health is improving. The issues of fatigue, high blood sugar, etc that plagued me in my first pregnancy are not here this time around, and I credit a whole foods plant based diet for that. ūüôā


Garden greens tossed with local avocado, peppers, onions, tomatoes and black beans

Garden greens tossed with local avocado, peppers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice and black beans

January 1, 2012

A few weeks ago while exchanging emails with a vegan acquaintance friend she wrote, “I don’t have kids or husband so not sure what the challenges would be.” At that particular moment I wasn’t sure either. ¬†I hadn’t actually gone shopping yet. ¬†For these past few days I have simply been using what I have already in the house and modifying previously cooked recipes. ¬†But as the Christmas leftovers reach their gross point and get passed along to the chickens or dogs, the fridge was looking pretty bare, so we (Joe, Ethan and I) headed for the commissary today. ¬†I was feeling pretty pleased with myself for having downloaded the Happy Herbivore’s meal plan the night before, complete with shopping list! Being vegan was going to be a cinch!

Um, not so fast there. ¬†I quickly realized the first challenge to my change: Shopping. First, the place is crazy busy and my darling toddler has already made it clear he’s in no mood for shopping and we’ve been here 10 minutes. ¬†(For the record, we went AFTER a 2 hour nap and snack, but apparently that made no difference today.) ¬†A new way of eating = a new way of cooking = a new way of shopping. ¬†I can’t just cruise through the place, hitting all my same-olds, tossing into the cart brainlessly. ¬†Produce was pretty easy- LOTS of it- but I did get some stuff I haven’t bought in a while like cauliflower and seemingly huge amount of mushrooms.

As soon as we hit boxed-canned-bagged aisle, it was all over. I had to read everything. I had to search for things I had never looked for before. (Olives? Cooking sherry? Red lentils?) ¬†The super cool-car-shopping-cart wasn’t cool anymore, as Ethan exercised his vocal chords. ¬†Ethan and Daddy exited Stage Left.

Ahhh. Peaceful shopping. ¬†Now, back to reading labels. ¬†And realizing there is freaking MILK or WHEY in EVERYTHING. Thank god I’m not going gluten-free! What a nightmare.

By the time I finish the monster shopping list ($248.00!!!) it is 5:30 and I should be putting dinner on the table already, not just putting in the car.  So we head on home, 3 grumbly-tummies as I promise to throw something together the minute we go inside.

And so we come to challenge #2: Prep Time. As a meat-eater or even a lacto-ovo vegetarian, throwing together dinner is a not complicated. ¬†Chicken breast in the skillet, rice in the steamer, broccoli in the pot. Done. ¬†Or my other great stand-by meal, frozen wontons in chicken broth with chopped cabbage/greens and green onion. Done. ¬†But I not only have come up with NEW stand-by meals that are easy and quick, but come to the realization that quality vegan food is not fast. ¬†Good grains take a LONG time to cook. All that rainbow of vegetables for good health take a LONG time to cut, wash and prep. Jars of sauces or mixes won’t do most of the time as they contain milk, so one must CREATE their own sauces. ¬†This takes TIME. ¬†And what a working mom does not have much of is, time. ¬†And while I have help from my mom and husband in nearly everything at home, my choice to go vegan has left them in a hands-off the kitchen mode. I would have to do a lot of teaching before either of them would help do cooking that is more complicated than boiling pasta or cooking chicken. ¬†And frankly, I have to re-teach myself first.

The story ends well. I threw together a recipe from Happy Herbivore called Skillet Green Bean Casserole, and it was pretty good. While I was cooking though, Ethan ate leftovers from the night before because that kid was too hungry to wait for his mama to experiment in the kitchen. ¬†Which leads me to the 3rd challenge: My Resolve. How important is this to me, really? ¬†Do I really believe this will work to correct my health issues, help me lose weight and get pregnant again? Do I really think one person not eating meat or dairy is actually helping the planet? And what about my chickens!? I’m already contemplating eating their eggs (not eggs in general) because I feed them organic food and they are quite happy and well-cared for. ¬†But does this make me a hypocrite? A sell-out? ¬†Or just practical?

And then I see the scale. Down 5 pounds in 5 days. Skin clearing up. Achy-knee feeling better. More energy to get up and get jogging. And I think, yes, I can do this.


Author: Carmen

Things I love: justice in all forms; flowers; locally grown food; cloth-diapering; breastfeeding; feminist theory; outdoor play; beaches; wine; Divine interventions; 4-H and coffee. Things I loathe: racism; homophobia; toxic crap; misogyny; litterbugs; the zombie apocalypse and pitbull-haters. My formal education is in sociology, gender studies, and public policy. I'm also a Lactation Educator; 4-H Youth Development coordinator a Certified Master Gardener and a graduate of a Permaculture Design Course. I've been blogging for several years on dozens of topics- everything from women's health to breed-specific legislation. But the thing I like to write about most is my gardening, food adventures and my kids. So there you have it. Please be kind. Thanks.

One thought on “Going Vegan: Garden & Pantry Challenges

  1. Definitely worth the re-blog! Thanks for sharing! I didn’t know about Happy Herbivore though I love PPK.


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